Culturally diverse communities
Culturally diverse communities are groups of people with common cultural backgrounds, ethnic origins, cultural heritages, linguistic and/or religious backgrounds. These communities may have distinct values, beliefs, customs, and practices, shaped by their unique cultural background. Analysis from the latest Sport England Active Lives Adult Survey shows that South Asian, Black and those with other ethnic origins are the least likely to be active.
Facilities should be welcoming, inclusive and open to everyone in your local community.
Some culturally diverse communities feel excluded from certain sporting activities and facilities. It’s important to recognise the historical prejudices and inequalities that exist in our society.
When developing your project, you should actively develop relationships with people from all backgrounds to break down barriers that prevent people from being active and engaging with your facilities.
It’s important to consider cultural differences in the area your facility will serve. Some of the information and advice here is broad, and you should consider how to create a positive relationship with individual groups and fully understand the audience they represent.
Representation and role models matter when it comes to young people actively taking part in physical activity. Insight tells us that some communities develop greater levels of trust with people from similar backgrounds, so it’s important that your workforce reflects your community.
It can be difficult turning up to your first session alone, especially when no-one else looks like you. A quote from the Tackling Racism and Racial Inequalities in Sport (TRARIIS) ‘Tell Your Story’ report says, “When you join a club, you’re looking for the coaching aspect and participation, but you're also looking for like-minded people you can connect with. Again, and again, I found that difficult, so I stopped going.” Coaches or recruiters should encourage groups of culturally connected people to attend together, from schools, community centres or elsewhere. A diverse and familiar group will make participants feel more comfortable.
It’s important to consider intersectionality when working with culturally diverse communities and other priority groups. Do you understand the barriers preventing some people from accessing physical activity opportunities? ‘Intersectionality’ means you should consider all aspects of a person’s life in addition to their ethnicity, such as gender, economic status, culture, etc.
For example, participation of sport and physical activity is significantly lower in South Asian females than it is for South Asian males, and it’s important to understand why so that barriers can be removed. However, it’s equally important to recognise that ethnic communities are not homogenous (all the same) and will experience different challenges to participation, and different approaches will be needed.
Another example is that some female faith-based groups may require or prefer women only sessions. The provider should work with them to design practical ways of ensuring that all activities are safe and secure. Can they take place indoors and away from public view? Are female volunteers or staff available to be on duty at that time?
Considerations and potential challenges
Here are some considerations for engaging with culturally diverse audiences to ensure your activities are inclusive and accessible for everyone.
- Engaging with the local community through faith-based centres is a great way to connect with community leaders and gain access to those who have been historically or previously underserved by sports activities.
- Traditional channels of communication should be assessed. Promotion through faith groups and community-led initiatives have a far wider reach than flyers or local media advertising.
- When developing promotional materials, representation in imagery is key. This includes specific languages or images that represent people from local communities to demonstrate their inclusion.
- Trust is vital. Many people from culturally diverse communities have been impacted by racism as well as being assured of meaningful change through various initiatives. Committing to creating safe and inclusive spaces for these communities in the long-term is imperative.
- Think about the needs of a specific audience, for example, Muslim Asian females would largely prefer female-only coaching and facilities, so be mindful of this when planning activities.
- Following government advice, we no longer use the term BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) as it’s a ‘catch-all’ term. Research commissioned by the Race Disparity Unit (RDU) found that people from ethnic minorities were 3 times more likely to agree than disagree that the term ‘BAME’ was unhelpful.
- Ask the communities you plan to work with how they describe themselves when looking to promote co-production opportunities or projects.
- Unfortunately, racism is still prevalent in football which may discourage people from joining. Clubs should ensure that it’s clear to participants that they are an anti-racism community, with clear and strict processes and repercussions for breaches. Senior club leaders should be approachable and not afraid to call out racism.